We can do many great things but it’s never enough to counteract our negative deeds. We are prideful and selfish beings and in spite of our best efforts we fail to live up to the best we could be. What Mark Twain refers to as favor I think of as grace. What he calls merit I call works. Intellectually we acknowledge the concepts of grace and mercy. Then we inevitably tie worth to deeds. We define people by what they DO and not who they are. We place value on productivity, net worth, and accomplishments. There is a part of us that does have greater respect for a professional than we do a homeless person on a bench. We “help” people with a sense of superiority and place ourselves above those we minister to. We pity those who are “less fortunate” than we are. Our religions often profess that all people are valuable and no life is worthless. Our actions don’t show this to be true in our hearts. We demonstrate great respect for people who are financially and materially successful and we overlook or ignore those among us who are humble, poor, and struggling. Churches often defer to the wishes of the members who give the most money or have the ability to give something greater back. How do we treat people who cannot do anything for use in return? How much respect do we show others who we do not think will ever have control or influence? This is why I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. I know I cannot ever earn my way into heaven. I am a wretched sinner saved by grace. There is absolutely nothing I can ever do to become worthy of heaven. Thankfully I don’t have to do anything at all. It’s already been taken care of for me!